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Micah 3:6-7

6. Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.

6. Propterea nox vobis erit a visione (vel, pro visione, vel propter visionem; dicemus postea de sensu,) et tenebrae vobis a divinatione (vel, propter divinationem,) et occumbet sol super prophetas, et obtenebrabitur super eos dies;

7. Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.

7. Et pudefient videntes (hoc est, prophetae,) et erubescent divini, et velabunt (hoc est, velum opponent) super labium suum omnes; quia non erit responsum Dei.


God declares here to the false teachers by the mouth of Micah, that he would inflict punishment on them, so that they should be exposed to the reproach of all. Hence the kind of punishment of which the Prophet speaks is — that he would strip the false teachers of all their dignity, so that they should hereafter in vain put on an appearance, and claim the honorable name which they had so long abused. We indeed know, when ungodly and profane men clothe themselves with the dignified titles of being the princes, or bishops, or prelates of the Church, how audaciously they pervert every thing, and do so with impunity. There is then no other remedy, except God pulls off the mask from them, and openly discovers to all their baseness. Of this punishment Micah now speaks.

There shall be to you a night from vision; so is the phrase literally, but the particle מ, mem, means often, for, or, on account of; and we can easily see that the Prophet represents night as the reward for visions and darkness for divination. “As then my people have been deceived by your fallacies, for your visions and divinations have been nothing but lies and deceits, I will repay you with the reward which you have deserved: for instead of a vision you shall have night, and instead of divination you shall have thick darkness.” 101101     That this is the meaning is evident from the two last lines of the verse. It is a kind of parallelism, in which the four lines contain the same idea or ideas, announced in the two first lines in one form, and in the two last another, with more clearness, and sometimes with something additional. The preposition מ has sometimes the meaning of rather than, but here, instead of. I would render the verse thus, —
   Therefore night shall be to you instead of vision,
And darkness shall be to you instead of divination:
Yea, set shall the sun upon the Prophets,
And darken upon them shall the day.

   Piscator gives the sense when he says, Visio vestra mutabitur in noctem — “Your vision shall be changed into night.” — Ed.
It is indeed certain, that the false teachers, even when they were, as they say, in great reputation, that is, when they retained the honor and the title of their office, were blind and wholly destitute of all light: but the Prophet here declares, that as their baseness did not appear to the common people, God would cause it to be made at length fully evident. As for instance, there is nothing at this day more stupid and senseless than the bishops of the Papacy: for when any one draws from them any expression about religion, they instantly betray not only their ignorance, but also their shameful stupidity. With regard to the monks, though they be the most audacious kind of animals, (audacissimum animalium genus,) yet we know how unlearned and ignorant they are. Therefore at this time the night has not yet passed away, nor the darkness, of which Micah speaks here.

We now then understand what the Holy Spirit teaches here, and that is, — that God would at length strip those false teachers of that imaginary dignity, on account of which no one dared to speak against them, but received as an oracle whatever they uttered. Night, then, shall be to you instead of a vision; that is, “The whole world shall understand that you are not what you boast yourselves to be: for I will show that there is not in you, no, not a particle of the prophetic spirit, but that ye are men as dark as night, and darkness shall be to you instead of divination. Ye boast of great acuteness and great perspicuity of mind; but I will discover your baseness, so that the very children may know that you are not endued with the spirit.”

To the same purpose is what he adds, Go down shall the sun upon you, and darkened over you shall be the day; that is, such will be that darkness, that even at noon they will see nothing; the sun will shine on all, but they shall grope as in the dark; so that Gods vengeance would be made so manifest, that it might be noticed by all, from the least to the greatest.

He confirms the same thing in the next verse, And ashamed shall be the seers and confounded the diviners, 102102     רסמים, μαντεις, Sept. fatidici, sootsayers, diviners. It is used generally in a bad sense, while חזים, seers is commonly used in a good sense; but here both words denote pretenders, the false prophets. — Ed. and they shall cover their lip; that is they will put veils on their mouths. In short, he means, that they would become a reproach to all, so that they would be ashamed of themselves, and no more dare to boast with so much confidence of their name and of the prophetic office.

As to this form of expression, ועטו על-שפם, uothu ol shephim, some think that the practice of mourners is referred to; but this interpretation is frigid. I have therefore no doubt but that Micah intimates that the mouths of the false teachers would be closed. There is nearly the same denunciation mentioned by Zechariah; for speaking of the restoration of the Church, he says, — They who before went about boasting greatly, and gloried in the name of Prophets, shall cast away their mantle, and will no longer dare to show themselves; yea, when they shall come abroad, they shall be as it were herdsman or private persons, and shall say, “I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, I am chastised by my father;” that is, they shall profess themselves unworthy of being called prophets; but that they are scholars under discipline, (Zechariah 13:5.) So also in this place, “They deceive at this day my people,” saith the Lord; “I will reward them as they deserve; I will fill them with disgrace and contempt. They shall not then dare hereafter to show themselves as they have been wont to do; they shall not presume boastingly to profess themselves to be the pillars of the Church, that the whole world may be made subject to them; they shall not dare with tyrannical force to oppress the common and ignorant portions of society Veil, then, shall they their mouth; that is, “I will cause their mouth to be closed, so that they shall not dare hereafter to utter even a word.” 103103     The version of Newcome is, “They shall cover the mouth;” that is, as he adds in a note, “with part of the long eastern vesture. This action was a sign of being put to silence, of disgrace and dejection, Leviticus 13:45; Ezekiel 24:17, 22.” There is no reason to render mouth, beard, as some have done. — Ed.

It follows, For there will be no answer from God. Some so explain this sentence, as though the Prophet upbraided them with their old deceits, which they boasted were the words of God: as then they were not faithful to God, but lied to miserable men, when they said, that they were sent from above, and brought messages from heaven, while they only uttered their own inventions or fables, they should on these accounts be constrained to cover their mouth. But different is the meaning of the Prophet, and it is this, — that they were to be deprived of any answer, so that their want of knowledge might be easily perceived even by the most ignorant: for false teachers, though they possess nothing certain, yet deceive the simple with disguises, and render plausible their absurdities, that they may seem to be the interpreters of God; and they further add great confidence: and then the stupidity of the people concedes to them such great power, according to what is said by Jeremiah 5 where he says that the priests received gifts and that for gifts the Prophets divined, and that the people loved such deprivations. But Micah declares here that such delusions would no longer be allowed, for God would dissipate them. It will then be made evident, that you have no answer from God; that is, “All will perceive that you are void and destitute of every celestial truth, and that you were formerly but gross cheats, when ye passed yourselves as God’s servants, though you had no ground for doing so.”

We now perceive what the Prophet means. But this punishment might have then contributed to the benefit of the people: for as it is a cause of ruin to the world, when there is no difference made between light and darkness; so when the baseness of those is discovered, who abuse God’s name and adulterate his pure truth, there is then a door open to repentance. Rightly then is this combination addressed to false prophets. It now follows —

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